RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2024

This year visitors caught a glimpse of the Roman Empire at RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The Newt team of architects and horticulturists recreated a colonnaded courtyard similar to those found in ancient Pompeii. Taking inspiration from Villa Ventorum at the Newt, we created a peristyle garden, typical of that seen in a flourishing household at the height of the Roman Empire. Visitors were invited to step back in time and immerse themselves in the colours, fragrances and planting styles of the era.

A Roman Garden

Located on Main Avenue, the Roman Garden followed the style of the 1st Century CE, maximising light and air within a compact space. Every inch showcased the Romans’ careful eye for design and the interplay between nature and architecture. Aesthetic choices of colour, fragrance and ornamental plant created a moment of joy and repose, whilst medicinal planting highlighted the Romans’ knowledge of plants’ health and wellbeing properties. This dual purpose still resonates today, with much to be learned by the modern gardener.

The peristyle garden featured 1,600 individual plants of 13 different varieties, informed by the popular choices of 1st Century CE. A mulberry tree took centre stage, flanked by wild cherry and pomegranate trees on either side. Medicinal plants including chamomile and lavender were chosen for their relaxing, soothing properties, whilst opium poppy was selected for pain relief, thyme to relieve coughs, colds and infections. From a decorative perspective, four Roman Herms (sculptures) created a focal point with fountains placed at each corner of the garden and braziers positioned at each end. The central garden was encircled by a water channel, effective for collecting rainwater and irrigating the plants. The walls enclosing the courtyard were decorated with frescoes, which were typical of the period.

The Romans are Coming

Villa Ventorum, meaning ‘Palace of the Winds’ - is a pioneering archaeological and educational experience at The Newt in Somerset. A life-size replica of a ruined Romano-British Villa dating back to 351 CE, includes rooms with fresco walls and mosaic floors, kitchens, a bathhouse, productive gardens and a vineyard. The new villa sits alongside an engaging, technology-led visitor centre and museum, carefully positioned over the original villa’s foundations and ruins.

Both the villa and museum offer a window into life in a Romano-British household – including the sounds, smells, and sights of daily rituals, staying true to archaeological evidence. This experience inspired our garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2024.

Stephen Herrington, Head Gardener at The Newt in Somerset and Co-Designer, notes: “Planting in the horticultural traditions of the Roman Empire has been a fascinating journey. Drawing on our team’s passion and expertise, we are aiming to convey to the modern visitor the sense of joy that the Romans would have derived through the scent and colour of their gardens.”

Grow Slowly

The best things in life take time. Gardening is about nurturing nature and working with the seasons. Many of the gardens at RHS Chelsea this year highlighted our changing climate and the importance of conserving water, but also designing flood resistant and resilient gardens. Our Roman garden had a rill that collects rain water so that it can be used to irrigate the planting, we have also used many Mediterranean plants that are drought resistant. We can all think about where the water goes in our gardens and put it to good use - be more Roman!

Official Cyder of Chelsea

Our favourite West Country tipple takes centre stage, as The Newt’s Fine Cyder was once again the official cyder of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Visitors enjoyed tastings, led by Head Cyder Maker, Lloyd Knapton. Made with specially selected dessert apples and using modern techniques, this super-fresh, still cyder was the perfect refreshment for a busy show day. The stand featured a display of Bramley apples and product showcases of the full cyder range.

Sample our Fine Cyder at home with our show special case price of 6 bottles for the price of 5 for the chance to WIN a two night hotel stay (T&Cs apply).

Best of Friends

Our friends in South Africa, at Babylonstoren, got in on the act again this year, giving visitors to the show the first opportunity to sip the newly-released Mourvèdre Rosé 2024 – the official rosé of RHS Chelsea. With subtle notes of rose petals and ripe berries, the dry and elegant wine transports you to the magnificent gardens at Babylonstoren – a historic Cape Dutch working farm, winery and hotel in the Franschhoek wine valley. To complement the rosé’s pale orange and pink-tinted hues, the stand was decorated with a multitude of pink protea cynaroides to celebrate South Africa’s national flower.

Sample this exceptional wine at home with our show special case price of 6 bottles for the price of 5 for a chance to WIN a two night hotel stay (T&Cs apply).

Chelsea Competition

Every purchase of our Show Special 6 for 5 deal on Fine Cyder and Rosé gets entered into a draw to WIN a two-night stay at The Newt in Somerset (T&Cs apply).

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